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Progress is being made on installation of cellphone towers at both South Albany and West Albany high schools.

The metal towers will replace wooden light poles. The South Albany tower is at the football field and the tower at West Albany will be at the baseball diamond.

The Greater Albany Public Schools Board of Education approved the project in August 2017.

GAPS facilities manager Doug Pigman said the South Albany tower is 80 feet tall and one at West Albany will be about 90 feet tall. Work on the West Albany project will start as soon as the South Albany job is completed.

“They just removed an old wooden pole on the left hand side of the field and lights will go up soon,” Pigman said of the work at South Albany.

Pigman said the cell towers were needed due to demand in the community.

“Cellphone saturation is really high in those areas during a regular day and really goes up when there’s a football game,” Pigman said. “These are the first towers in the school district.”

In addition to the cell towers themselves, Verizon is leasing about 200 square feet of ground space near each pole for equipment needs.

GAPS Finance Director Russ Allen said Verizon will pay the school district $18,600 per year per pole on a five-year renewable contract.

“The contract starts at $18,600 per year per tower with an automatic 2 percent annual increase,” Allen said. “For the calendar year 2018-19, the combined revenue will be used to pay off the loan for the artificial turf project at South Albany taken out by the Rebel Athletic Foundation.”

Allen said that beginning in 2020, the revenue will go into a fund to offset future expenses of both turf fields.

Allen said the school district was approached by Verizon about the project due to a need for more saturation in the community.

“We worked with Verizon to identify the most advantageous locations,” Allen said.

Allen said the contract calls for a five-year initial phase that will automatically renew for four additional five-year terms unless Verizon opts out.

Contact Linn County reporter Alex Paul at 541-812-6114.

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